Connecting to Change the World blog with permission. Networks are a natural way of bringing together like-minded people and excluding others. People tend to connect with each other because of their similarities, not their differences. And as their bonds strengthen, they construct a shared identity based on their similarities. This “social capital” can become a screen/barrier for membership in the network. When people outside of the network are told they can’t participate, they may feel the network is more like a “good old boys” club, elitist, lacking in diversity, even discriminatory. Bonding without diversity is a larger social phenomenon, whether the shared identity is race- or ethnicity-based, economic, occupational, geographical. Thomas Edsall, in a recent column in The New York Times, noted that as the political has become more personal in the U.S., partisan political identification has intensified as a source of bonding between and separation of people.
- In 2010, 49 percent of Republicans said they would be “somewhat or very unhappy” if their children married someone of the opposing party, while 33 percent of Democrats said the same. These percentages were nearly 10 times greater than 50 years earlier.
- From 1960 to 2010, the percentage of Democrats and Republicans who said that members of their own party were more intelligent than those in the opposition party grew from 6 percent to 48 percent; the percentage describing members of the opposition party as “selfish” rose from 21 percent to 47 percent.